Broadcasters, vendors file for FM HD power hikes


Eighteen commercial and non-commercial radio broadcasters and major broadcast equipment makers filed with the FCC last Tuesday in support of a proposed power increase (MM Docket 99-325) for FM HD signals.
The broadcasters included Clear Channel, CBS Radio, Emmis, Entercom, Greater Media and Cox Radio.

The filing says the initial HD Radio rollout was structured to ensure minimal interference of analog signals while also offering a strong digital service.  That first phase has gone smoothly, with minimal interruption of traditional radio broadcasts. Today, with more than 1,700 HD Radio stations currently on the air, and following extensive testing, the advantages of higher power for the broadcaster and the consumer are clear: improving reception in same areas where digital signals don’t replicate analog signals, and enhancing reception by a greater variety of devices.

Tests conducted on the proposed increase found that with Class A FMs, a 30% increase of service radius was found, and a 67% increase in coverage area. For Class Bs it was a 24% increase in service radius and a 56% gain in coverage area. Building penetration was also significantly increased, from a -20 db power to a -10db power.

Said Bob Struble, president and CEO of iBiquity Digital: “As HD Radio technology moves further toward the mainstream, it’s crucial that we continue to add new features and enhance the technology’s basic capabilities. Working with the broadcast industry and equipment makers, iBiquity Digital has completed extensive testing on higher-power FM HD Radio broadcasts and the results are clear. Increasing from 1 percent to 10 percent of analog broadcast power greatly improves digital performance without meaningfully increasing interference.”

Read the filing in the pdf attachment below

RBR observation: No doubt the power hikes will help, and if analog ever gets turned off, a full power increase would be in store for the main center channel—it would be likely more robust than the analog. But that is years away, and to do the power increases now, it will cost money and be quite inefficient from a power standpoint. There are pros and cons:

You can also read our recent Intel Brief on the proposed power increases